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Osama bin Laden: Death and Justice

May 2, 2011

I haven’t really known how to respond to the death of Osama bin Laden, founder of al-Qaeda, who died yesterday somewhere in Pakistan. I wasn’t really around any media when I first heard the news, but when I got home I saw the chaos that had ensued since his death. Pretty much every single news piece had the heading: “Osama bin Laden Dead” and Facebook was out of control with probably half a billion statuses immediately heralding the news. And the more I read, the more I was conflicted and confused on how I should feel, as a Christian, about the death of this man. I read things like “love your enemies” and “don’t celebrate death, celebrate justice” and “proud to be an American” and “finally he’s dead” and “took long enough” and “pray for Osama bin Laden’s soul” and so on and so forth. Needless to say there are many opinions going around, and many Bible verses going around to back up various opinions. So who to believe? And what to believe? Should I be happy bin Laden is dead? Or should I pray for his already deceased soul, as some would have me do? Is God happy about the death of this man? Should one rejoice over the destination of an unrepentant (that I am aware of) murderer (add list of atrocities here)? 

Then I stumbled upon Dr. Will Varner’s blog, a professor of Bible, Theology and Jewish History at The Master’s College. He made some pretty interesting remarks about how Christians are responding to this death. (You can read the blog entry by clicking on “Dr. Will Varner’s blog” above… if you didn’t figure that out.) I now have plenty to think through.

So, what do you think, dear reader? How are you responding and why?  

[Interesting note having to do with my blog title itself, Adolf Hitler was also announced as dead on a May 1st, back in 1945]

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul Ellsworth permalink
    May 2, 2011 10:15 am

    The tension appears to be between two things: first, that we ought to remember that we are sinners and saved by grace, and that we ought to desire others to repent and come to that salvation as well. The death of an unrepentant sinner is sobering. Second, that God loves justice, that God IS just… and we ought to love justice as well, we ought to hate sin, and we ought to realize that God’s justice brings Him glory. The death of an unrepentant sinner … well, God’s justice will be enacted.

    The hard part is how to reconcile/combine those two. How should I respond? Should I be glad that justice will finally (it has NOT been done; we should remember that physical death is NOT God’s justice, that is far too light a view of sins and crimes against a holy God!) be done on a man who was so antagonistic to God? Should I be saddened that an unrepentant sinner is now enduring an eternal state in the wrath of God? Maybe it should be both?

  2. Vickie permalink
    May 2, 2011 12:25 pm

    I have to agree w/ Dr. Varner. And since so many do not believe in election, that shades how they will look at the death of an unbeliever, no matter how heinous his crimes. They picture God as having done all He can, just waiting for the sinner to repent and come to Him. They don’t understand that, w/o God’s awakening the unbeliever through regeneration, that person will never come to Christ. They do not understand that God’s glory is at stake, so He is truly justified (and owes us no explanation) in doing whatever He wants w/ whomever He wants. They just want what is fair, not realizing that, if God was truly fair, we’d ALL go to hell.

    It’s a shame that Osama is now understanding that his eternal life is not one of enjoying 70+ virgins, but is one of eternal darkness and damnation. I’m thinking that he is probably pretty surprised by that, since he was so willing to die, rather than be captured. We all deserve what Osama has now, but God in His great grace chose to save some of us from that life of depravity. For His glory. Praise His name!

    And I look at it this way as well–better that one wicked man die and go to hell than for him to live and send many other unsuspecting people to hell by one of his atrocious acts. It’s good we don’t have to worry about him anymore, but it’s sad for him that he never knew the Truth.

  3. May 2, 2011 12:38 pm

    Thanks for the comments, keep them coming, folks. Just read another good blog post by Al Mohler: http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/05/02/the-trial-that-still-must-come-the-death-of-osama-bin-ladin-and-the-limits-of-human-justice/

  4. Kara permalink
    May 3, 2011 8:05 am

    On 9/11, a lot of Americans were upset by footage of various Arab populations rejoicing over the destruction in NYC. A lot of the same people then rejoiced at the idea that Bin Laden had been killed by the US. I believe that both of those things are shocking and upsetting.

    I don’t think I can agree with Dr. Varner’s split between what is done to you as an individual (in which situation you are supposed to turn the other cheek) and what is done to a nation (in which situation you are perfectly justified to go and kill). As Christians, we are commanded to love, period. Jesus didn’t quantity that love or qualify it. In fact, He said it was more virtuous to love those who would never be able to love you back. It’s not loving to rejoice in the demise of somebody who was made as much in the image of God as you and I were.

    I cannot believe that God sees a difference between bin Laden’s death and the deaths of those who were in the World Trade Center. To God, all of them were people made in His image that He sent His Son to die for.

    If you want to rejoice in God’s justice, rejoice that it was fully satisfied and served at the cross of Christ. It is finished! God himself states that He is not pleased to see the wicked perish. Rejoice that you are given the opportunity, because of Christ’s selfless gift, to love those around you… even if they have committed crimes against you or your country.

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